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Horowitz: It’s time to ban ‘gun-free’ death zones

Op-ed
Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden asked the most salient question following the Uvalde school massacre. “When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” asked the president, after a rare reference to scripture. He’s exactly right. We all know that 100% of school shootings in recent years have taken place where everyone except for the attacker was barred from being armed with a gun or rifle. The time has come to ban the ban on guns at school.

We can debate the root cause behind the unmistakable rise in school shootings over the past decade or two. But clearly, between the mental health crisis, the breakdown of family and religion, and the incessant social media glorification of tragedy upon which so many psychopaths lock their minds, we are in a vicious cycle of copycat attacks targeting schools, among other places.

Throughout the coming days, we will hear many statistics thrown around. But the most important statistic relevant to this issue is “100.” Yes, 100% of school shootings over the past two decades have occurred in places where it was illegal for any parent, teacher, or administrator to carry a gun. Even the most ardent supporter of gun control knows that there will always be numerous forms of firearms available to any sadistic mass murderer. The only question is: Will he be the only one armed and know with full confidence that he can kill scores of people before being stopped?

Obviously, we need a standard, set by local officials, to have one point of entry into schools while they are in session, with a security detail manning that entry. But that is not good enough. Security or police officers are identifiable to the attacker, and if the assailant successfully takes out the guard, he knows that he has free rein in the rest of the “gun-free zone.” This point was not lost on the Buffalo attacker when he wrote in his manifesto: “Areas where” carrying with a concealed weapon “are outlawed or prohibited may be good areas of attack.” It won’t be lost on the next mass murderer either.

While it is hard to prevent every attack and avoid any loss of life every time, it is simply a disgrace that someone could mow down as many as 21 people without being stopped. With the unidentifiable element of surprise, having multiple workers and administrators in each school carrying concealed every day – with the requisite training and scenario drills – we can at least make sure that a mass murder of this scale never happens again.

None of this gets to the root of the cause of these loner psychopath shootings, but over time, if the gunmen were mowed down on the spot or, in the worst-case scenario, only after killing the first person, the glory that tantalizes their demented brains, knowing that the faces of victims will be plastered over social media after each one of these massacres, will be neutralized. Yes, these attackers are unique and much harder to deter than typical street murderers. They don’t care about dying. But they do want to claim scalps. It is that desire that is in our power to foil. If following the next few attempts, we all see pictures of a dead attacker lying in a pool of blood at the school entrance rather than faces of 20 children, it would clearly deter the next “copycat,” at least to some extent.

While the news coming out of Uvalde is still murky and conflicting – itself an ominous sign – it’s becoming obvious that this atrocity was not about guns. Police now concede that the attacker walked through an open door and was not confronted by a school resource officer or anyone else. The Wall Street Journal reports that one neighbor claims there was shooting outside for 12 minutes before he even entered the building. Then, once he entered, multiple parents are claiming they urged police to enter the building, and one was even restrained by U.S. Marshals for wanting to charge into the building. Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told reporters it took at least 40 minutes for officers to enter the building, and even then, it might only have been due to the presence of the Border Patrol agents.

In other words, government failed at all levels to protect the children, but they were sure keen on preventing others from stepping in to fill the void. According to Uvalde County law, as in most counties, “a person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm … on the physical premises of a school or educational institution, any grounds or building on which an activity sponsored by a school or educational institution.” Furthermore, “It is not a defense to prosecution that the person possessed a handgun and was licensed to carry a handgun.”

That law sure performed well, didn’t it?

What would actually work? Well, obviously there should be an officer stationed at a single entry point into the building at all times. But let’s not forget that such a person will become a clear target, and if he is taken out by an assailant, then there is no backstop. What we need is a form of “sheriff’s posse,” in which local law enforcement deputizes citizens to help take shifts and unassumingly patrol the premises and interior of schools in plain clothes with concealed carry. So many communities are full of retired veterans and law enforcement officers who would love to defend American children on American soil after having sacrificed, usually, for dubious foreign missions. Also, the schools should have training programs for multiple administrators and teachers to carry concealed.

After every school district does this, come back to me if there are any future attacks with so many dead people. And the fewer there are, the less glory of such attacks will be piped into the psychotic minds of future ticking bombs. The more the left invokes Uvalde as a means of disarming private citizens on behalf of the government, the more it appears we need more trained, armed citizens to fill the void left by government.
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